Simon Mignolet error costs Liverpool at home to Sunderland
It was another miserable day for Liverpool at Anfield as they threw away a two-goal lead in the closing stages to draw 2-2 against relegation-threatened Sunderland.
Jurgen Klopp was absent after having surgery on his appendix, and thousands of fans walked out after 77 minutes in protest at rising ticket prices with their team 2-0 up and cruising, courtesy of goals by Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana.
By the time those supporters had reached their cars, the Reds had been pegged back to 2-2 as Sunderland scored from their only two shots on target.
Once again the blame lied with Simon Mignolet, who handed Sunderland a route back into the game after he feebly let Adam Johnson's effort creep under him. From there, Sunderland had renewed belief and Jermain Defoe rescued a point.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Simon Mignolet, 3 -- May as well have walked out of the stadium along with the supporters, as he failed to set up his wall properly and then allowed the resulting free kick from Johnson to beat him at the near post. That put his team in an unnecessarily nervy situation and it was little surprise when they then conceded again soon after. The Belgian had earlier been lucky not to be punished after throwing the ball directly to a Sunderland player when attempting to launch a quick counterattack.
DF Nathaniel Clyne, 6 -- What little defending he was asked to do he did with his customary aplomb and he supported the attack when possible, without really making any inroads down the right flank.
DF Dejan Lovren, N/R -- Replaced after 11 minutes by Kolo Toure after feeling a cramp in his recently healed hamstring. Had not been really tested before that as Sunderland had opted to set up camp in their own half, leaving Defoe completely isolated.
DF Mamadou Sakho, 5 -- In a game in which he had virtually nothing to do, the Frenchman was found wanting late on when finally asked to do some defending, as he was beaten too easily by Defoe for the Sunderland equaliser.
DF Alberto Moreno, 7 -- A bright, positive influence for most of the game as he continually surged forward to offer an attacking outlet down the left and produced a couple of terrific crosses. Could have opened the scoring in the first half but was denied by the outstretched boot of the goalkeeper.
MF Joe Allen, 6 -- Finally given a start in the Premier League but unfortunately he was forced off with a hamstring injury before half-time. He looked busy and tried to get into the box when possible and he will be missed if he's out for any length of time.
MF Emre Can, 5 -- A difficult game for the German as Sunderland packed their defence and left very little room for him to charge into. As a result, he was subdued in his deeper role and was very conservative with most of his passing.
MF Jordan Henderson, 5 -- Continues to struggle and just doesn't look like his normal self as he plays through persistent injury problems. Some of his passing and crosses were uncharacteristically sloppy and there's not the usual zip and energy in his play. Replaced late on by Lucas.
MF Adam Lallana, 7 -- Lots of running and was always willing to show for the ball, but had little joy for much of the game until things opened up more in the second half. Could have done better with a shot he put too close to the goalkeeper but soon made amends with a cool finish after being set up by Firmino.
MF James Milner, 7 -- Solid outing from the experienced England man. Not flashy -- he never is -- but got through a lot of good work as always. Could have made more of an opportunity in the first half when he chose to cross rather than shoot, but later produced a wonderful deep cross for Firmino's opening goal.
FW Roberto Firmino, 8 -- Went close twice with powerful efforts from distance before opening the scoring with a well-placed header. The Brazilian then turned provider after winning the ball in the Sunderland half and he showed good awareness to pick out Lallana for the second goal. A lively outing full of good link play and endeavour, his performance should have been the story from the game but calamitous play from those behind him ensured it wasn't.
DF Kolo Toure, 6 -- Replaced Lovren early on and was steady enough without ever really being tested much.
MF Jordon Ibe, 6 -- Brought in just before half-time in place of Allen and had a couple of good moments in the second half when he went close to scoring.
MF Lucas Leiva, N/R -- Not an afternoon the Brazilian will remember with any fondness. He was involved in an argument with a supporter behind the dug-out midway through the second half before he was brought on in the closing stages to help see the game out. He failed to do that as Sunderland scored within minutes, although no blame can be attributed to him for that.
Dave Usher is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.